The annual Al-Quds Day rally was held in front of the American Consulate in Toronto on April 15, 2023.
Yara Shoufani [Yara El Choufani] is a PhD Student in political science and government at York University, an organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement Toronto chapter, and a former Executive Director of Canadian Friends of Sabeel and president of the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights group (SPHR) at McMaster University.
Here is Yara Shoufani’s speech at Al-Quds Day rally in Toronto:
We are here today to stand proudly with our people in Al-Quds [Jerusalem], our people in Jenin, our people in Haifa, our people in Lid [Lod] everywhere across our homeland [of Palestine]. We are here as Palestinian youth to affirm that the Palestinian people refuse to surrender, refuse to capitulate, and that the Palestinian people will fight until victory.
I am here today on behalf of the Palestinian Youth Movement Toronto Chapter. We are a grassroots movement, a Palestinian and Arab youth in exile who are organizing across North America and Europe with the aim of combating Zionism and struggling for the liberation of our people and our land.
I want to thank the organizers of the Al-Quds committee, and thank you to all of you who have shown up for Palestine this afternoon, and who are here to send a clear and direct message to the Zionist project that our resistance continues until liberation and return.
Since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan the Zionist state has ramped up its violence against Palestinians, that are rightfully resisting the occupation and colonization of our lands. Last week Zionist forces violated the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem destroying a health clinic to stop hundreds of Palestinians from attending, injured and blocked media teams from accessing the site. Despite their best efforts to hide the violence from the world, videos have emerged showing the occupation forces shooting tear gas stun grenades and rubber coated bullets. Despite the brutality of this attack, our youth stood up and stood their ground and protected the sanctity of the Masjid [Al-Aqsa Mosque], which led to over 400 Palestinian youth detained for steadfastly confronting the occupation. This is the purest depiction of Zionist cruelty and brutality a brutality that is at the heart of the Zionist project.
Every year during Ramadan the Zionist entity violates the sanctity of the Masjid [Al-Aqsa Mosque] as a tool of collective punishment. The occupation is not only interested in taking our land. They seek to break our people’s spirits. But their violence does not end or begin in [the month of] Ramadan, and the struggle does not end or begin in Al-Aqsa [Mosque]. It goes beyond it. Their violence is present 365 days of the year. It is present in the refugee camps they invade and where they indiscriminately kill our people. It is present in the Zionist jails they erect where no light enters, and where they brutally torture our prisoners.
We honor the protectors of Al-Aqsa [Mosque], the protectors of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and all of Palestine, who through their resistance have made it clear that Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is a red line. In the last few days, the Zionist government, despite opposition from its far right elements, has banned Zionists from Al-Aqsa [visiting the Temple Mount] until the end of Ramadan. This ban is the direct outcome of the strength of our people’s unified resistance.
We uplift and amplify all resistance efforts by Palestinians and Arabs to the encroachment of the Zionist regime upon the mosque and upon our eternal undivided capital of Jerusalem when people are occupied, when people are colonized.
Today, the Israeli state is in crisis. Zionists are divided protesting in the streets of the entity over judicial reforms. These protests expose the artificial nature of the Zionist colony. They show us that aside from a project in favor of colonial social order, there is little else that politically binds or holds Zionist settlers together. While Zionists are divided, Palestinians are unified in our commitment to national liberation and to return.
We are unified by a love for our homeland, and a love for our people. We are unified under the banner of resistance, and our resistance from Al-Quds to the West Bank to Gaza to Lebanon to Syria and beyond is unified across state borders against the Zionist project precisely because we understand that Zionism is a project of Western imperialism that the violence and destruction of the Zionist project knows has no bounds and abides by no borders. We know this not only through the Zionist encroachment into Palestinian lands, but also through its occupation of the Jolan [The Golan Heights] in Syria, its previous Invasion and occupation of Lebanon and its continued aggression towards Iran.
We salute our people resisting Zionism across all of Palestine and worldwide. We recognize every so-called Israeli city and town to have been built on the ruins destruction and genocide of over 400 Palestinian Villages and towns during the nakba in 1948 [the Nakba, “catastrophe” in Arabic, refers to the establishment of the State of Israel] and since that time. And as we approached years of nakba, we declare that the nakba has not ended and so our resistance continues.
We are blessed of our uplift of our people in Jerusalem who defend Al-Aqsa regardless of the brutality they receive. Our people in Gaza who resist [led by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad] every time our red lines are crossed, our people in the West Bank [led by Palestinian armed groups] who continue to fight the occupation at all points, and the resistance in Lebanon [led by Hezbollah] for protecting the cradle of liberation.
We call on all of our people in the diaspora, our Palestinian and Arab and Muslim Community, to take up a role in our struggle for liberation. We must reject the normalization of Zionism in all its forms. We have an obligation to reject capitulation, assimilation and apathy to our cause. We must become active participants in our struggle. When we say we want Palestine to be free, that includes every single inch from Jenin to Nablus, from Al-Quds to Gaza, from the refugee camps to the prison walls. From the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea [crowd: Palestine be will be free]. From the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea [crowd: Palestine be will be free].